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Microsoft PowerPoint vs Open Office Impress

written by: Arnold Zafra•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/19/2008

Microsoft PowerPoint and OpenOffice Impress are both great desktop solutions for creating powerful and engaging presentations for business or educational purposes. Both software applications offer an easy-to-use, user-friendly interface which even the most novice users can easily adapt to.

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    Basic Features of PowerPoint and Impress

    Both PowerPoint and Impress are robust desktop applications for creating slideshow presentations that you can use for business or educational purposes. Basically both software applications allow you to either create a slideshow from scratch or to build your presentation automatically using a built-in wizard or, for Imress, an auto-pilot scheme. They also offer a fluid navigation window which serves as your workspace for designing presentations and where you can play around with adding graphics, charts and diagrams, transitions, and special effects. But although their basic functionalities are almost the same, you can immediately notice the difference between these two programs if you're a long-time user of PowerPoint who is just starting to use Impress or vice-versa.

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    Differences between PowerPoint and Impress

    The differences in these two presentation software packages ranges from the minute nitty-gritty of creating your presentation slides to the most obvious interface differences.

    First, when you start creating a slideshow and you have no idea how to begin, PowerPoint helps you out with its slide creation Wizard. The same is true with Impress with its AutoPilot slide creation tool. Whereas the PowerPoint Wizard will guide you in choosing the slide background, output type and slide structure, OpenOffice's Impress does something more by guiding you in selecting transition type, transition timing, and indicating a title page.

    What Microsoft PowerPoint lacks in some aspects of its Wizard, it more than makes up for in the number of preloaded slide templates that you can choose from. PowerPoint has dozens of cool-looking, professionally-designed templates while Impress only includes two templates. But then again, if you are like me and like customizing the way your presentation looks, you would probably rather create your own background and slide layout than use any of these templates whether creating the presentation in Impress or PowerPoint. Similarly, both PowerPoint and Impress extend the number of templates available through their online repository of presentation templates.

    To summarize the difference between PowerPoint and Impress, it would be safe to say that Impress is slightly different from PowerPoint for the following reasons:

    • Impress lags behind PowerPoint's special effects.
    • Impress supports wav, aif and au music formats.
    • Impress has no tools for recording sound or narration and for playing CD Tracks.
    • Impress has no projection Wizard.
    • Impress lacks the Notes Pane in default and drawing views.
    • Impress has a number of floating Windows.
    • Impress has lesser predefined callouts.
    • Impress has a greater range of effects through Fontworks.
    • Impress allows quick access to advanced features in drawing mode.
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    Which is the Better Presentation-Maker?

    Both Impress and PowerPoint are great software applications for creating powerful, engaging, and entertaining slide presentations. Each has its own strengths and weakness which evens out the playing field. Your best bet would be to try using Impress if you are a PowerPoint user, or PowerPoint if you are an Impress user, and see which one you like better.